Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
Stanford University, which was considered a leading contender in the competition to build an applied sciences campus in New York City, has withdrawn its application, less than a month before the winner was to be announced.
A statement from the university said Stanford's trustees decided to cancel the bid after weeks of negotiations with city officials.
The carefully-worded press release did not go into specifics, but stated "the university could not be certain that it could proceed in a way that ensured the success of the campus."
Julie Wood, deputy press secretary for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, remained upbeat about the project. "This competition is about changing the future of the City’s economy, and we are thrilled that we have a number of proposals that we believe will do exactly that. We are in serious negotiations with several of the other applicants, each of whom has a game-changing project queued up. We look forward to announcing a winner soon. We thank Stanford for participating in our process and wish them good luck."
Stanford planned to spend $2.5 million building a glittering 1.8 million square foot housing and academic space at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, to accommodate 2,200 students. Stanford made its bid in partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY). Calls to CUNY about how Stanford’s decision will impact its plans to move forward were not returned.
Stanford did not immediately respond to a request seeking clarification on its differences with New York City officials. The Mayor’s office also did not share details.
Stanford’s move may give a boost to another leading competitor: Cornell University, which is making a joint bid with Israel’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
Hours after Stanford publicized its decision, Cornell announced its largest-ever gift from an anonymous donor: $350 million, to be used to develop Cornell’s proposed campus if it is the winner.
Reached by phone, CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld was quick to endorse the Cornell-Technion team.
“Technion is the MIT of Israel and it operates on the same level. All the tech coming out of Israel comes from there. If it wasn’t for Israel, there'd be no cell phones,” Wiesenfeld said, conceding that Stanford’s withdrawal would likely end CUNY’s role in the competition.
“It would be nice to have Stanford but I’m not going to go and lament it,” he said.
There are still six academic consortia vying for the opportunity to build a engineering and applied sciences campus in the city, including institutions such as New York University, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon University.